We have just been away for a week camping and birding in the bush to the north of Broome and while I will give you more details of some of the places we visited in forthcoming posts I will just share with you all an encounter with a pair of Grey-fronted Honeyeaters this week. During the week the temperature hovered around 40c (104f) most days, but the humidity was incredibly low at around 5% and you really did not perspire. It was just hot and dry and so not actually as unpleasant as the cooler days we can have in the Kimberley when it is very humid and you just appear to be dripping with sweat all day. When looking for bird-life you source out waterholes and flowering trees and then sit and wait. If you need some shade for yourself in an area where there is little in the way of trees you turn to the “rest areas”, which are maintained by the “Main Roads” in Western Australia. They offer shade, picnic tables and composting toilets, but no water. They are usually positioned in picturesque locations and it was on a recent stop at the Ngumban Cliffs rest area that we had a close encounter with a pair of Grey-fronted Honeyeaters. Ngumban Cliffs are about 98 kilometres from Fitzroy Crossing and 215 kilometres from Halls Creek and the rest area map for the rest areas between Port Hedland and Kununurra are available here. They are often used as “free camping” areas by people travelling around Australia and can be quite crowded at certain times of the year, but are rapidly emptying out now….could be the 40c that scares people out of the area!!

View at Ngumban Cliffs

View at Ngumban Cliffs (2)

View from Ngumban Cliffs

While we sat in the shade we had a Grey-fronted Honeyeater land in a tree near the shelter and it looked quite dishevelled due to the hot dry wind. In fact I had not been able to photograph the species in the past due to their hiding in among trees, but suddenly there were very few trees and it needed to hang on. It was then joined by another Grey-fronted Honeyeater and they flitted off together over the edge of the cliffs.

Grey-fronted Honeyeater (2)

Grey-fronted Honeyeater hanging on in the wind

The complete lack of water did not bother us, because we usually travel with at least 60 litres, but this Grey-fronted Honeyeater would surely like some fresh water. Grant poured some water onto the concrete pad in the hope that it would last long enough for the Grey-fronted Honeyeaters before it evaporated. It didn’t take too many minutes and one of the Grey-fronted Honeyeaters came back to the area and noticed our puddle of water and came to investigate. I was able to photograph it from the other side of the concrete pad while it drank the fresh water.

Grey-fronted Honeyeater (3)

Grey-fronted Honeyeater (4)

Grey-fronted Honeyeater (5)

Grey-fronted Honeyeater (6)

Grey-fronted Honeyeater (7)

Grey-fronted Honeyeater having a drink

Shortly after the drinking Grey-fronted Honeyeater was joined by the other and then both drank from the water while we enjoyed their company.

Grey-fronted Honeyeaters

Grey-fronted Honeyeaters (2)

Grey-fronted Honeyeaters (3)

Grey-fronted Honeyeaters (4)

Grey-fronted Honeyeaters drinking

Water is so important to all forms of life and this pair of Grey-fronted Honeyeaters were no doubt grateful for the little treat as we passed by along the Great Northern Highway.


Written by Clare M
Clare and her husband, Grant, have lived permanently in Broome, Western Australia since 1999 after living in various outback locations around Western Australia and Darwin. She has lived in the Middle East and the United States and traveled extensively in Europe. She monitors Pied Oystercatchers breeding along a 23km stretch of Broome's coastline by bicycle and on foot. She chooses not to participate in social media, but rather wander off into the bush for peace and tranquility. Thankfully she can write posts in advance and get away from technology!